Posts tagged ‘environmental symposium’

April 30, 2012

Environmental challenge by local company culminates in annual student symposium May 1 with guest speaker Fabian Cousteau

When given a challenge, many of south Florida’s youth rise to the occasion and students in Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) are no exception. After Wheelabrator Technologies asked three local schools to create a solution to an environmental or public challenge in their community, each school stepped to the plate to research and then conduct a year-long project. Their projects culminate in the Wheelabrator Symposium for Environment and Education to be held on May 1, 2012 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Sunrise. This is an annual event that finds its roots in a relationship with Partners In Education, a non-profit that focuses on getting businesses involved in education. Wheelabrator first partnered with BCPS 20 years ago and it was through this partnership that the symposium was developed.

“This year celebrates 20 years of our partnership with Wheelabrator, so I am really excited to be a judge at the symposium,” said Nina Randall, executive director with Partners In Education. “I am always amazed at the depth of the students’ research. This year, I am especially excited that students will have the opportunity to meet Fabien Cousteau, grandson of the famed oceanographer Jacuqes Cousteau.”

The Symposium brings more than 100 students to Sunrise from 10 middle schools representing districts from New Hampshire to south Florida. This year, three Broward County schools are presenting creative and flexible solutions to resource management.

Three local schools participating worked on diverse environmental projects:

  • Westglades Middles School has been certified by the National Wildlife Foundation as a School Yard Habitat.  This year the after-school Environmental  Club joined forces with the South Florida Audubon Society, the Institute of Wildlife Sciences and the Sawgrass Nature Center and Wildlife Hospital to improve the habitat of and include new homes for Screech Owls.
  • Thirty-four million tons of food is thrown away annually in the United States [and] less than 3% of the food waste is ever recovered or recycled. After further study, students at Sawgrass Springs Middle School learned that one alternative to throwing away food, which will ultimately end up in landfills, would be to compost.  In an effort to test the theory, a composting program started at school in conjunction with the Youth Environmental Alliance under the guidance of Kristin Hoss.
  • This year the students’ goal at New River Middle School is to promote sustainability.  Spring-boarding off of their 2011 project, the team will plant an additional 25 Sabal palm trees at John U. Lloyd State Park to increase the canopy buffer zone between the lighting of Port Everglades and the beach to decrease the mortality rate of the hatching sea turtles. They will also continue to grow mangrove seedlings for replanting to provide nurseries for juvenile fish. In addition, the team will increase recycling on the school campus. New programs: The student team is growing live rock (a $4M business in Florida) since live rock naturally filters water, especially in aquarium tanks.  The will also be creating PSAs/podcasts on environmental issues.

“We are an environmental company and it’s absolutely our culture to educate and work in the community,” said Linda Sapienza, Director of Community Relations with Wheelabrator. “I wouldn’t have been able to maintain a relationship with PIE as long as we have if not backed by the company. They encourage everyone to get involved– it’s their core value.”